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DEQ Proposed Rules Impact Agricultural Nonpoint Sources

January 11, 2011

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) is proposing to amend existing rules and to issue new internal management directives that affect the regulation of agricultural nonpoint sources of water pollution.  According to Oregon Department of Agriculture (“ODA”) Director Katy Coba, speaking at the Dunn Carney Ag Summit , as part of DEQ’s rulemaking process, the DEQ and the ODA are discussing revisions to an existing memorandum of agreement that defines their respective roles with regard to regulation of agricultural nonpoint sources.

The proposed DEQ rules would allow DEQ to require an individual landowner to take certain actions to address water quality.  The proposed new internal DEQ directives would require DEQ to define best management practices (“BMPs”) for agricultural producers during the process of developing total maximum daily loads or TMDLs for water quality-impaired water bodies.

The ODA is required to regulate agricultural nonpoint sources based on science; the DEQ is not subject to the same standards in the development of TMDLs, and consequently, is not subject to the same standards in developing BMPs for agricultural nonpoint sources.  It is unclear at this time exactly how these different standards will be applied, and who exactly will take the lead as pressures mount to further regulate agricultural nonpoint sources.


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